The Five Stages of a Night Out at Rhythm & Vine

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Like any true Fort Lauderdale basic, I have a deep, almost holy appreciation for a good Friday night happy hour. Days are hot, weeks long, and the thirst so real in this wonderful city — which is why when I find a well-lit, trendily decorated astroturf patio wherein I can get tanked on vodka sodas with my fellow SoFlo ladies and gents, I don’t take it for granted.

Rhythm & Vine isn’t your typical one-and-done type of bar. If I've learned anything since the buzzy neighborhood beer garden opened last year, it's that there’s a process to getting your drink on at this homey spot. Especially if you're rolling in during daylight hours, that first tequila shot already settled into the back of your mind, it's best to be prepared for the ride.

Here are the five stages of a night out at Rhythm & Vine.

Stage 1: Happy Hour
Sun's out and lighting up your smiling face perfectly (selfies, you think) as you pass the polite bouncer your ID. Strolling into the backyard, you eyeball the light crowd, deciding whether to camp out on the throw pillows in the back corner or get your Jenga on at the picnic tables. It's a vital choice, akin to strategizing the coolest spot in the middle school cafeteria. Half the people you know are going to drop in over the next hour, and where you post up for those first few drinks will help set the tone.

After you and your squad (or casual work buddy — this is still stage 1) stake your claim, it’s time to grab a beer, maybe some tacos from the food truck, and then get to chatting about the night's plans. Should you head home after happy hour and stay low-key? Who wants to go out tonight? It feels like the world is your oyster and life is good.

Stage 2: Backyard Gets Busy
By now, the sun has almost set and grabbing a drink from the trailer bar is becoming a slight mission. Is string lighting really that flattering, or are a lot more hot people starting to show up? You begin to sense your cocktail buzz setting in, but the feeling is complicated by all the damn fans blowing air in your face and whipping your hair into your mouth. You’re trying to tell the cute yachtie you just met about your favorite local dance spots, but get tripped up after suddenly realizing you’ve been talking at him ten decibels above the normal level.

It’s time for shots. The crowd is officially too big for everyone to hit the bar together, so you fly solo and come back with the party favors — a handful of little square-shaped plastic cups filled with booze. It's always bewildered you — why the square shape? But you're trying not to let that slow you down. Cheers!

Stage 3: Bathroom Break
In this particular scenario, you are a female. So as a general rule, you line up for the bathroom about 20 minutes before you actually have to go. Once there, you find two types of girls waiting: first is the girl who actually waits in line for the ladies' room. The other just walks straight into the men’s after scanning the 15 girls ahead of her. Most of the time, you decide to be the former, but we’ve all had nights where we’d rather not risk the UTI.

After patiently waiting your turn while guzzling down the rest of your whiskey ginger, you finally get your moment of relief inside the single-stall ladies' room. Any R&V veteran knows you might as well take the extra five seconds to fix your hair and readjust your boobs, because whether you take 30 seconds or two minutes, you’re going to get the death-stare from every girl in line when you walk out. You don’t take it personally, though. You were like them just a few moments before — caught in the throes of time standing still as the rest of the world went on without you.

Stage 4: Late-Night Under the Red Light
The music is bumpin' now and it’s super-convenient timing, since all you wanna do is dance. Even though you’re never quite sure whether you’re actually on a dance floor, you jam out where you’re standing anyway. As long as you're minding other people's drinks, no one seems to mind you breaking it down, and wherever you migrate, you’re somehow always shoulder to shoulder with a group of lively dudes.

After an unknown amount of time goes by, you end up sunken into the plush, worn couches next to the DJ booth for a quick rest. The vibe is like hanging out in your neighborhood friend’s garage in high school, when the only things you had to worry about were sneaking in the beer and who you might get to make out with during Spin the Bottle. Maybe you lean in for a kiss with the hottie next to you (at least, they seemed hot at the time), or maybe you spend a half-hour waiting there for your bestie who said she’d "be right back with shots.” 

Stage 5: The 30-Minute Exit
Your friend finally makes it back with the shots, but by now the room is getting a bit hazy. That’s your body’s signal for “time to move on to a new adventure,” so you head to the inside bar to grab one last cup of water for the road. Now you just have to kindly tap each person in front of you on the shoulder while focusing on not grazing their butt with your crotch as you pass.

You finally make it to the door, but now what? The recent divorcée and his two friends you just met on your way out are inviting you to join them for a quick smoke-out across the street. Maybe they can help you decide whether to Uber it downtown, you think to yourself, or stumble to Mellow Mushroom for a slice and a game of "bags." Either way, you're calling it another successful night out at Rhythm & Vine.

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